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  • Books 

    Center Enter Turn Sustain: Essays in Change Artistry by Esther Derby, Don Gray, Johanna Rothman, and Gerald M. Weinberg This collection is available in…

  • Contact Information 

    You can contact me: Email: don donaldegray com Phone: (336) 414-4645 Twitter: @donaldegray LinkedIn: Don Gray

  • Downloads 

    Presentations Agile Team Dynamics - Agile RTP 2010.03.05 Agile Decision Making - agile-richmond 2010.06.15 Dysfunctional Team Patterns - ADP East 2010 -…

  • Endorsements 

    Don has a unique ability to create a cadence of steady progress amidst the noisy chaos that is all too often a part of software development. While Don can…

  • Hikes 

    Pictures and movies from our various hikes. Black Balsam Tennet Mountain Hike - July 2012

  • Videos 

    No description found for this item.

  • Visiting This Site 

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream things that never were and ask, why not? - Thoreau I'm thinking of ways to share thoughts and actions. In…

  • Welcome! 

    I work with executives and managers building coherent organizational structure, processes, policies and goals where teams can flourish. This creates…

  • What I Do 

    Mentoring and Coaching My experience across a variety of industries, from small startups to Fortune 50 organizations, provides a solid platform for assisting…

    • Coaching Beyond the Team: Influencing the Organization 

      Learn how to coach beyond the team Agile coaches and Scrum Masters face many challenges. They have no authority to insist people listen or do, yet…

    • Workshops 

      These workshops utilize Piaget's Model of learning where learning is the process of constructing, not receiving, new knowledge. They use experiential…


Articles

  • A Multi-use Model 

    Models are like kitchen utensils. You need a variety of them, and you should know when and how to use them. They should be useful for more than a single task.…

  • A Quick Update 

    A quick update on systems thinking items:

  • A rose by any other name 

    I've been reading some interesting emails concerning names in an Scrum environment. Backlog in particular seems to generate energy.

  • Agile Change - The Values 

    What does Agile involve? And what do I mean "Agile"? Does "Agile" mean "Agile, the Manifesto" and the "agile, the principles"? How about "agile, the software…

  • Agile Principles Shine Light on Development Projects 

    I settled into the visitor's chair across the desk from Nate. Looking at Nate I said "So tell me about your project." RULE II: START WHERE THE SYSTEM IS1 Nate…

  • All Problems are not Equal 

    Head Down and Headed for Cover I'm an adrenalin junky. I keep agreeing to work with projects in trouble with incredible time pressure. Last Wednesday I agreed…

  • “There-Then-Them” / “Here-Now-Us” 

    I'm catching up on some reading this week, and I just read Willem's disagreement with Jerry's thoughts. Truth be known, I agree with both Jerry and Willem.

  • Beating Brooks' Law 

    Joe Little does a marvelous job recruiting speakers for the Agile-Carolinas meetings. This month was no exception. Israel Gat from BMC Software discussed…

  • Better People, Better Process 

    The current mantra for software development hinges around “better, faster, cheaper.” To support these efforts, companies attempt to improve their developmen…

  • Better Process, Better People 

    The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. Officially author unknown, but I heard it from my mother, more than once. Reading Better People,…

  • Boomerang Measurements 

    You can tell a lot from how a story starts. If you hear "Once upon a time ..." you'll probably hear a fairy tale like "The Three Little Pigs" or "The Little…

  • Can Developers Test Software? 

    Yes, Virginia, there's more to testing. I'm a developer, not a tester. I know only a little bit about testing, but I DO know that testing methodologies move…

  • Change and Stable Systems 

    "Change quotients" prompted one particular thought - since I'm usually the person recommending a change, I tend to be more sensitive to lower quotients than…

  • Change is Good 

    Several years ago I found out that I was not really in charge of everything, or in control of very much. This lead me to Don's Dismal Dilemma: How will I…

  • Change Quotients 

    Some wag said, "The only person who likes change is a wet baby." Another favorite is "Everyone likes change, when someone else is doing it." If change is so…

  • Changing Quicker 

    Will reorganizing every two weeks lead to stable software processes? What conditions would enable this to happen? When should we schedule the next change?

  • Changing Words to Change Reality 

    Words interest me. They don't exist in the real world. They're the names, and descriptions we give to the items and events we notice in our environment. A…

  • Choosing Change 

    I’ll never forget that morning even though it happened a quarter of a century ago. I was a programmer helping start up a new factory, and things had been…

  • Command and Control Agile 

    Words convey meaning. They're how we take the stuff deep in our brains and share it with others. They also self reinforce. David Levy says "not only do our…

  • Communications Disconnects 

    "Why doesn't my manager listen when I explain the details?" "Why doesn't the developer just give me what I ask for?" If you’ve ever heard these complaints…

  • Constructive Chaos 

    If you're shifting software development paradigms, use a clutch! Team Powerhouse had problems. The developers didn't know how much work they could get…

  • Context is Everything 

    Today I had the opportunity to remember that "context is everything". Hurricane Frances continues her slow crawl up the eastern United States. It started…

  • Context Switching - Congruent Action 

    Managers get a bad rap when conversation turns to context switching. Johanna Rothman indicates they may have forgotten what development is like. Tom DeMarco in…

  • Context Switching - The "hardware view" 

    I met George Dinwiddie so long ago, CompuServe ruled the online world. We participated in the Software Development Forum. He recently added to the context…

  • Context Switching for Fun and Profit 

    I usually have 3 or more things going on at any time. Right now I'm doing exploratory work for one client (lots of try this, try that, well, how about trying…

  • Data and Doing Things 

    Johanna recently blogged about Making Milestones Visible. Jerry added that milestones not only need to be visible, they have to be actionable. The example they…

  • Debugging System Boundaries: The Satir Interaction Model 

    People working with systems know the interactions between the system and its environment create a tremendous opportunity for success or failure. In computer…

  • Developers Testing Software, Take 2 

    In my experience the developers have the verification mindset, "Does it do the job?" Most everyone who uses the software has the mindset, "Does it allow me to…

  • Developing Developer Skills 

    Things change quickly in the world of software development. I started my career writing in Fortran 77. I stayed fairly abreast of languages until C++ and Java.…

  • Different But Useful 

    Maps make it easier for us to work with the real world (whatever that may be). Some detailed information gets removed, but if the structure is similar to the…

  • Don't Mind Read - Improve How You Communicate 

    "Why doesn't my manager listen when I explain the details?" "Why doesn't the developer just give me what I ask for?" These questions popped out during the…

  • Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! 

    I remember when I first started solving problems for a living. I would leap down the stairs three at a time, race to the computer room, and stare at the line…

  • Effective Agile Retrospective Workshop 

    In Better Process, Better People I talked about retrospectives as a process for learning and improvement. My colleague Esther Derby and I will be conducting…

  • Effective Agile Retrospectives 

    Does your standard iteration retrospective constantly repeat the mantra: “What did we do well?” “What could we do better?” “What one thing would…

  • Failure Paths During Change 

    In Understanding Change I described the Satir Change Model. Near the bottom I acknowledged that I described a "happy path" change. Many designed changes never…

  • Farmer Meditation 

    I summarize NASCAR as "A bunch of good ol' boys. Drive fast. Turn left." The locals tend to have a different view, so I usually keep mine to myself. However I…

  • Fearless Change: The book review 

    My thoughts about the book ... If you don't have the book, get it. If you have the book and haven't read it, do so now.

  • Force Ranking Force Dynamics 

    Esther Derby recently ranted about Force Ranking. I'm not an expert on force ranking, or maybe as an independent consultant I am. I'm force ranked every time I…

  • Frederick P. Brooks, Jr - Agilista? 

    Hear me out. It may not be as far fetched as it may first seem. I'm not going to say how long I've been around, but I have two copies of The Mythical…

  • Generating Safety 

    Most of the time, most of the people don’t put a lot of thought into their behavior. They run an “auto-pilot” program that governs how they respond. If…

  • Getting to Language 

    Albert has an interesting job. He takes the manufacturing software the plant operators use, and creates simulation software to train operators. I started…

  • Getting to Language Revisited 

    First, when you're not doing email (or phone) there are more "channels" than simply "language". Indeed, in your example you two were operating with a particular…

  • Giving Up - Reframed 

    Finally, I'd reframe your blog question from "What's the anti-pattern", to "When does a useful pattern become an anti-pattern?"

  • Giving Up to Get Ahead 

    In my years in "da biddness", I've seen people time, and time, and time again do the same thing, and wonder why it didn't work. And when what they were doing…

  • Goal, Goal, Who's Got the Goal? 

    “If you don’t know where you are going, you probably won’t get there.” – Yogi Berra The pager tones sounded at 2 AM. It blared “Squad 86, car…

  • How Did This Happen? 

    I’m not surprised when the first words I hear are “Something’s wrong, can you come and take a look?” What did surprise me was Saturday and at home.

  • How Do You Know? 

    How do you know what you know? More importantly, how do you know what other people know?

  • How Safe is Your Workplace? 

    We’ve defined safety to mean we can take risks and our coworkers/management will support us, especially if setbacks occur. We have the ability to speak our…

  • In the news ... 

    Blog entries are posted. Should be properly linked and tagged. If you find a mistake, please let me know. I posted some articles while doing the blog. I'll be…

  • Intake: Abstracting and Represenational Systems 

    We take in information from our environment in discrete steps. We abstract from the continuous data streams (aka "The Real World") in the following order:

  • Is it done yet? 

    One of the great questions in software development revolves around "Is it done yet?" And since the answer is usually "No" the follow on question gets asked,…

  • It Looks Good From Here 

    We stopped and looked at the first rapid on the first river from the bridge. I distinctly remember saying, "It looks good from here." And it did. What I didn't…

  • Jim Said More 

    One of the smartest things I did as Interim VP of Engineering for Padcom was let Don talk himself into coming to play with us over the course of several hours…

  • Learning to Change 

    In Changing Quicker we looked at reducing or removing system delays to reduce the time delay between realizing a change needs to be made, and when the change's…

  • Liar's Contest 

    Sharkey, the sales VP of UberDenke Software Products, firmly believes he needs to have the next release of the UDCRM product in three months. Engelbert, the…

  • Managing in Mayberry: An examination of three distinct leadership styles 

    Although the main highway bypassed the town years ago, the namesake for the popular 1960s television series is still a bustling community, and a fair amount of…

  • Multi-use Models 

    Models are like kitchen utensils. You need a variety of them, and you should know when and how to use them. They should be useful for more than a single task.

  • No Exit 

    The more he thought about it, the more he felt trapped. The more trapped he felt, the more he wanted out. The more he wanted out, the more he felt trapped. And…

  • No Group Is a Team on Day One 

    The agile training class for a newly formed team was almost complete. We’d covered values, practices, roles, the product backlog, done simulations teaching…

  • Now, What is Change? 

    Re-reading my blog titles occasionally leads to interesting thoughts. Many titles mention change, and most entries have something to do with change. But after…

  • One Issue - Two Sides: Safety and Trust 

    When we flip the safety discussion over, we find trust. When I trust you I provide the safety you need to take risks and speak your truth without fear of…

  • Organizational Changes Make Messes 

    Last week Mike Cottmeyer posted that People Are Messy. He gave an excellent example how two people approach and respond differently to change. I might choose…

  • Organizations Change - People Transition 

    Googling "organizational change" returns almost 6 million hits. The LinkedIn Organizational Change Practitioners contains 26,125 members. With this much…

  • Point of View - From Another Point of View 

    I found more information on view points. These are referred to in NLP as Perceptual Positions.

  • Problem Solving - 2 Year Old Fashion 

    I recently had the opportunity to observe problem solving at its more pure state. We took our grand-daughters, Jessica (4), and Nikki (2) to the park. For a…

  • Problems vs Opportunities 

    Problems or Opportunities? Where should you focus your effort?

  • Problems with System Health 

    Can knowing how one system works help you understand how other similar systems work? Do software, project and physical health have much in common?

  • Responding to Changes 

    The team I worked with was scattered in a cube farm with 5 foot walls. Well, except for the two who chose to work in a large storage closet. After the…

  • Reverse Engineering Reality Part 1: Reading Causal Loop Diagrams 

    Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) can help us understand complex interactions and events by revealing system structure. Unlike buildings, most systems don't have…

  • Reverse Engineering Reality Part 2: Creating Causal Loop Diagrams 

    Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) share several things with books: they both tell stories, they can be fact or fiction, and they're both easier to read than write.…

  • Says Who? 

    This system must have 99.9% availability." Says who? "We're in financial trouble, and there's going to be a lay-off." Says who? "Management won't let us…

  • Seeing Forests and Trees 

    I saw the forest, and all the work that needed to be done. Ed saw the trees, and noticed that our task would be easier if we could find a way to let the…

  • Shifting the Burden - Whose Monkey is it? 

    “Don, the software’s locked up again! Can you come up here tomorrow and fix it?” George was on the other end of the conversation. George and I had…

  • Single Point Requirements 

    The take home lesson we learned, "Don't accept a single example for requirements that cover a class." We even referred to ensuing similar requests (from them…

  • Skills for Software Smokejumpers 

    Do you know about smokejumpers? They're brave, self-sufficient firefighters who parachute into remote areas wearing eighty pounds of gear and ready to fight a…

  • So What's the Problem? 

    I would say that the root of the problem or "cause" was the pure and simple fact, that a poor decision was made to "band aid" a poorly designed system. If the…

  • So, What is a System? 

    I'm working backwards. I started this entry on defining change. Then I realized change can't exist without systems. So, what is a system? I like the following…

  • Solving Other People's Problems 

    ... learning to solve other people’s problems means learning to connect with your client, understand what they think they have, what they think they want,…

  • Stabilizing Systems 

    Engineers make the darndest assumptions. I made one such assumption in "Change and Stable Systems". The unstated assumption involved starting with a stable…

  • Teamwork at agile-RTP 

    58 members of agile-RTP and I explored communication in agile teams March 2, 2010. I appreciate the turnout. The rain and temperature were falling. We kept…

  • The Art of Problem Solving 

    A puzzle is a problem that one cannot solve because of a self-imposed constraint. Creativity is shackled by self-imposed constraints. Therefore, the key to…

  • The Blame Game 

    Engelbert watched Pam nervously chew on her knuckle as she stood in the door of his office, answering his call. "Come in and close the door." He motioned…

  • The Identified Patient Pattern 

    Engelbert frowned, trying to understand why Pamela had been acting strangely. Her programming skills were among the best in the company. She had a way of…

  • The Problem Definition "Golden Rule" 

    "Whoever has the gold, makes the rules." Murphy's Golden Rule

  • The Software Cynic 

    I found the following in some notes from October 2000. I don't remember why I made the observations.

  • This Title May be Changed at Any Time. How do You Feel About That? 

    Three of my favorite quotes about change and translations: "The only person who likes change is a wet baby." This change corrects a problem so I’m OK…

  • Understanding Change 

    At the end of Andrew Fuqua's presentation on "How to Energize Your Team" at agile-atlanta the conversation turned to how change affects teams. I drew and…

  • Verifying Models 

    My name is Don, and I have a problem. I'm trying to make sense of my world. Sometime ago I asked myself the question, "What is the earliest indicator that…

  • Views: Yours, Mine, and Ours 

    What's Wrong with this Picture? Have you ever read something that bothered you, but couldn't put your finger on exactly why? I found myself in that position…

  • We have met the enemy 

    As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy, and they are us." I started writing this entry as a rant about losing a blog entry. And here I am going, "Yeah, I've done…

  • What Does an Agile Coach Do? 

    Every so often I meet someone who asks, "Don, what do you do?" Over the years I've found the best way to answer this question involves asking what that person…

  • What Does Safety Mean? 

    When I talk with other coaches about teams, I  hear a lot about “creating safety” and “safe teams”. I don’t hear much about how to do that. While…

  • What's Your Point of View? 

    We recently pruned the fruit trees in the backyard. I did it by myself the previous time, and the results were, well, interesting.

  • Why Agile Works 

    Someone once asked me, “Don, what does even the wisest person overlook?” The answer was “his nose.” You can see your nose if you focus, but you…

  • Why Don't You Hear What I Mean? - The Satir Interaction Model 

    Two recent events reminded me about the minefield called communication. A friend requested some feedback which I gladly provided. In fact, I thought I did a…

  • Why Not Ask Why? 

    It all started with a tweet I posted: "Why" questions trigger feelings bypassing data input and thinking. #dontdothat As this got retweeted, interesting…